There is no safety.

grassesI’ve been thinking a lot about safety recently. About insurance, vaccines, outbreaks, and all of these scary things in the world. In my line of work, I have to. I spend my time planning giant meetings where hundreds of people are interacting with each other, and it is basically a germ factory. I have to purchase insurance in case there is an outbreak or an emergency at one of my conferences. I have to plan for what we would do if there was a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. We have to submit floor plans for fire marshal approval. This is what I think about.

I was raised by a scientist and a math teacher. I live firmly in the world of logistics and planning. God and faith are a part of my belief in science. I know too many scientists, doctors, and people who are trying to fix the world to think that they are hiding the truth about vaccines. Or whatever is the current conspiracy theory. This does not make me naive. There are a lot of bad things in the world. There is a lot of negligence, and death, and lack of planning for the future of our planet. We do not need to invent more bad things because some already exist.

On the topic of vaccines I will be clear: they save lives. The world is a better place because of their existence. I have studied history enough to know the alternative is truly terrifying. The world before vaccines was a place where babies dying was just accepted because there was nothing to be done. I thought this battle was fought long ago, and it saddens me deeply that our privilege in this country is causing a situation that could bring unnecessary death and suffering to thousands of people.

We have to be able to talk about controversial topics without hating each other. We have to be able to acknowledge that there is something that we may not know about the world. There needs to be a place where we can learn from each other. I promise to try to understand, to listen. And I ask that you do the same.

Waiting

Morning sunSome days are a waiting game.

Some weeks are.

The feeling of helplessness is never good for me.

I want to take action, solve problems, help people! The roadblocks sometimes seem insurmountable.

Taking deep breaths and just…waiting. For everything.

Naw-Rúz

MC at Greenlake Baha'i ConferenceI have been reflecting on the events of the last year, since March 21, 2012. It has been an absolute roller coaster. There have been challenges beyond my expectations, heartbreak, joy, travel, a beautiful summer, love, and a lot of laughter. I worked on one of the biggest events I’ve ever coordinated (the Centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to the United States), was a MC at a Baha’i conference, attended several other conferences (including a session at Louhelen with Mr. Nakhjavani), attended weddings, celebrated the birth of so many babies I’ve lost count, grieved the loss of family members, facilitated a youth group, began learning how to be a member of a Local Spiritual Assembly, worked on a never-ending Wilmette Baha’i archives project…

I wandered my city in rain, wind, sun, and love. Mostly in love.

At Green Lake

It has been proven to me beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am surrounded by some of the most amazing family and friends that this earth has to offer.

I have learned that people can be exceptionally cruel and not even understand that what they have done is wrong.

I have been validated in my feelings and told that I am loved.

I know that I need to be in warm, sunny weather to keep my spirits up to my normal state of existence.

I have taken greater risks this year than I ever have before.

I will never, ever let people tell me that my joyful exuberance needs to be reined in. And I will do my best to make sure that my actions allow others to feel no judgement, and to feel welcomed in my circle.

In Monterey, by the aquarium

To everyone in my life, thank you for this beautiful existence that we share.
I love you very much, and I wish you a very happy Naw-Rúz (Baha’i New Year).

there is no winning this one

Winter. :(this is the result of years of battle, the scars run deep. the tears flow free.

if writing down a record of how you feel at this exact moment helps you remember…i am not sure that i want to.

there is a certain responsibility in holding onto things. i am tired of fighting this war, of the wounds reopening every few months. “if you don’t fight, who will?” (i am told) but fighting a one woman battle against the forces of inertia is an exercise in ulcers and frustration.

where do you draw the line, though? i need you (all) to fight with me, but there shouldn’t even be conflict here. i am hungry for something new to challenge me, for the excitement to come back. i love this place, but not enough to sacrifice my joy.

it is time to move on, and it is terrifying sometimes. But I am ready.

The Power of We

Blog Action Day brings together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day.” 

The idea of “service” has been on my mind a lot recently- how do we serve others? Do we try to find out what people truly need from us? Are treating people with so much love and respect that they feel comfortable talking to us without fear of judgement? Are we being kind? Why do we sometimes see service as one-off actions or events, rather than as a way of life?

Ceiling detail, Oriental TheatreI truly believe that if we make conscious decisions about how we treat people, a certain power comes out of those interactions that has the ability to change our world. It isn’t about changing minds, but reaching hearts.

Sometimes we get overwhelmed at all of the things going on in the world. I often hear people make the excuse that “I am only one person, nothing I do will make a difference.” But when we are mindful of our actions, when we take part in the process of building our community on an everyday basis, we have a far greater impact than we can imagine.

Do something today: try to inspire yourself or someone else by showing compassion, standing up for someone, or even just taking a container of food to your neighbor who just had surgery. Take the small steps, and the larger ones will come naturally. When each person interacts with others in a way that acknowledges the necessity of caring for our fellow humans, we can be part of a force for greater good.

Hope

Nineteen Months - Names, Davison USA so sweet and quiet. i’ll take the mosquitoes at dusk and the green grass, the park as the sun sets. i will close my eyes as the waves wash over me…i can’t look straight at the sun.

i’ll take starlit nights, laughter, and peace. i’ll let the honesty and the fear stand in their place, they will act as they are needed.

i will take these things and place them in the parts of my soul that are trying to be brave and happy.

29 years.

I like…#11

Fields of grass, even though I’m highly allergic.
resting

the sand washing away from my feet

laughing with old friends & retelling the stories of our past

bright colors
love the trim

photoshoots

honesty

the way I feel after a long day in the sun

long walks with no destination
purple flowers

(I Like: #1,#2,#3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10)

The value of these days

Hydrangeas at the House of Worship“The doors of the Kingdom are opened. The lights of the Sun of Truth are shining. The clouds of divine mercy are raining down their priceless jewels. The zephyrs of a new and divine springtime are wafting their fragrant breaths from the invisible world. Know ye then the value of these days.

Awake ye to the realization of this heavenly opportunity. Strive with all the power of your souls, your deeds, actions and words to assist the spread of these glad tidings and the descent of this merciful bounty. You are the reality and expression of your deeds and actions. If you abide by the precepts and teachings of the Blessed Perfection, the heavenly world and ancient Kingdom will be yours—eternal happiness, love and everlasting life.”
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace

I have been reading Rob Stockman’s new book on my lunch break, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in America, and this talk was quoted in the book. I have become more and more conscious in recent weeks of the precious value of these days, trying not to waste any moments, trying to take action and move forward with my life. The distractions are many, and sometimes it is hard to focus.

One day at a time, trying to be inspired.

the imaginary conversation

You’re right. None of us are meant to be alone. It gets us into trouble in so many ways. I mean, if you choose it, that is one thing. But to choose solitude, or at least be content with it…well.

-I imagine that this process is a lot easier when we’re honest about what we’re looking for.

Would you have been this honest 10 years ago? Or even 5?

-No, but we delude ourselves into this journey that has taken years, and now we find ourselves successful in some ways, but all seeking this connection that we still haven’t found. Finding the connection doesn’t fix everything, but then we can focus on other things.

So I guess it comes to the fact that we are here, in this time and place, and we have a choice to make. We never found our way before this, and we’re surprised to find ourselves in the dark, holding on.

-It really is a choice. We choose our life, our love, in the infinite confusion that is now. We can’t stop running from things that make sense. We have been doing it too long, it is almost an addiction. We are afraid to make mistakes, to make the wrong choice. But we’re running from what could be the easiest choice.

I am not going to get an answer to this, am I?

Wo(men)

I don’t involve myself in internet debates/comment discussions on websites. There is absolutely no point. However, in some of the discussions I’ve seen recently over at The Good Men Project (one of the few sites of this kind that I frequent), there seems to be the idea that the issues that relate to men should be dealt with by men, and issues that relate to women should be handled by women.

This makes me so mad. The stupidity inherent in this kind of belief structure, where we think we can advance humanity by the genders working in their own silos, where they bring the other gender down and dehumanize them in order to raise themselves up, is just plain crazy.

Winter gulls

I have been lucky enough to grow up in a family and faith that encouraged a beautiful balance of ideas, practices, and tools that enable men and women to grow together, to build each other up. The world is still largely imbalanced, favoring men, but to reject men and all the wonderful things that make them men would be to reject half of humanity, would leave me feeling imbalanced.

That men and women differ from one another in certain characteristics and functions is an inescapable fact of nature and makes possible their complementary roles in certain areas of the life of society; but it is significant that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated that in this Dispensation “Equality of men and women, except in some negligible instances, has been fully and categorically announced.”-The Kitáb-i-Aqdas

I don’t have a long, thought-out post about this, but I had to write something. I wish we could have more productive conversations about this subject, instead of fighting who should be in charge.

 

Perfect weekends

We fill the house with smoke and the smell of thick-sliced bacon, and the snow is turning to slush outside but blankets wrapped tight surround us. We will put on a good movie, or a really terrible one, or both in one day. We will eat breakfast for lunch and a banana split for dinner. We will rush out of the house on a Sunday morning to make it to noon prayers at the House of Worship, pinch the cheeks of some beautiful infants, stomp our feet in the cold of Chicago snowy winters, and listen to the choir.

We will smile at each other as our noses freeze and we curse the cold, but it is just an excuse to be closer to everyone we love.

These are the weekends that fade, but the moments are just perfect.

Five years

5 years At the airport in Tel Avivago today at 1:00 pm, my plane landed in Haifa, Israel. I was starting 18 months of service at the Baha’i World Center. I waited for 2 hours at the airport because the person who was picking me up got a flat tire. I had some time to kill, so I took a photo of the screen that showed my flight.

It was December but it was warm, and I slept in the car, but when we came around the side of the mountain, the city was spread out in front of me, and it felt like coming home. View from the living roomOverwhelmed, everything felt a little bit surreal. My aunt and uncle were in the same apartment building, a childhood friend turned out to be one of my roommates, and I had the best views from my apartment: the Shrine of the Bab, the city of Haifa, and the Mediterranean.

Everything seems better in hindsight, of course. I remember being incredibly lonely, but also really happy. Very few of us had internet at home, and every day things felt a little more distant everywhere else. One of the advantages of not having internet or tv for the first 10 months was the sheer amount of books that I read. I was 23 years old, in a new life.

Even 3 1/2 years after returning to the United States, I still miss it. I miss the Shrines, the year-round flowers, the history and age of Israel, exploring (wish I had done more of that!), the people, the warmth…(I may have been one of the few people that LOVE hot weather). Everything.

I miss it every day.

just.be.here.

there are a dozen things on the list that I carry in my head. technology tries to help me but in the end, I am left with this.
write it down, go from here to there to here, with these people and this event and and…
there is no sitting still.

I’ve been dreaming lately. I’ve always dreamed, sometimes I dream the future and it comes true, sometimes I dream the present and my fears. there have been dreams about every noun. I dream through the lens of my camera. I live in a place that is no longer new to me, I miss the warm sun and thousand year old streets and year-round flowers.

writing will begin again, with honesty, with the kind of raw power that I used to carry in every word. I forgot to hold onto that part of me when I started speaking more than I was writing. I want to write my book, the book of the things I learned. It is so difficult to be honest now when everything is analyzed to death. just be.

Here is the truth. Each day is wonderful, even in silence sitting side by side. The past has never been more distant.

never ending winter

It has been a long winter. Not necessarily bad, but…long. It is mid-March and I look outside to see gray skies, the pervasive gray that hovers over my thoughts and makes everything the same.

Lake Michigan

I started setting up my haft-sin table in preparation for Naw-Ruz (the first day of spring and the Baha’i New Year) and am dreaming of summer, picnics, flowy dresses and sunlight.

For now, the gray skies follow.

lucky stars

chicago lights through bars

There are a few ways to count lucky stars. In the quiet way, 1 2 3 in a row, listed in order, in a way that makes you think of libraries, lace doilies, and trying too hard. Then there are the shouting, the in-your-face counters, in a desperate plea for attention, with too much cologne or comments on walls (graffiti or otherwise). The entire spectrum isn’t important, just stay away from the extremes.

As usual, moderation is key but there are elements of the extremes that can be included without being that person. We all know those people. No need to discuss it further.  Moving on:

Telling stories. I have never been a storyteller. How I have kept this going for nearly 10 years is completely baffling. But storytellers are the best counters, the best givers of the gift of understanding luck/mercy/fate while acknowledging the hard work involved. I know some great storytellers, and most of them have lived enough life that their stories are actually worth the time it takes to listen and understand.

My stories are little pieces, dancing for the chance to get out but to tell them in the way they need to be told is so difficult. Counting lucky stars is even harder. You have to know your audience, and here I write to blank faces. I write to the people that still read this, the people that haunt, the former friends and new ones, the stranger that found this little corner of my claimed piece of the cloud…there are no eyes to look into. Sometimes it traps me, and my stories drown under the weight.

I saw a child tonight whose perfection made my heart stop. I literally became dizzy. My dear friend reached into the incubation unit to comfort her son, this innocent soul and I loved him immediately and without reservation or thought. This is a story.

Spending quiet moments with you, the perfect times when I look up to match eyes and the wrinkles we all get when we smile at each other. This is an ongoing story.

I’ll sing my children to sleep some day with the stories of my family, my Faith, my love. I’ll sing them to sleep with the stories of the world, the stories of things that are good. I’ll have to learn the songs, first, but I’ll count my lucky stars and I’ll show them how to count theirs too. We’ll be the counters that dance in green grass with bare feet, the ones who stare up at the heavens at a never-ending universe and laugh to be alive.

Water – Blog Action Day 2010

O ye friends of God! Be kind to all peoples and nations, have love for all of them, exert yourselves to purify the hearts as much as you can, and bestow abundant effort in rejoicing the souls. Be ye a sprinkling of rain to every meadow and a water of life to every tree. Be ye as fragrant musk to every nostril and a soul-refreshing breeze to every invalid. Be ye salutary water to every thirsty one… (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 356)

The UN General Assembly recently declared access to clean water and sanitation as a human right. Those of us who live in areas of the world that have access to water may find it hard to comprehend the lack of access, the disease and struggle that come from such a simple need not being met.

fountain tiles beneath water

Facts about water you might not know (from the Blog Action Day 2010 site):

1. Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
2. More people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet.
3. Every day, women and children in Africa walk a combined total of 109 million hours to get water.
4. It takes 6.3 gallons of water to produce just one hamburger.
5. The average American uses 159 gallons of water every day – more than 15 times the average person in the developing world.

reminders

It happens every few weeks, or months.  A reminder of what I left behind.  It comes with a sudden warm, coastal wind, or a flower that I saw every day, or a friend’s smiling face.  It sometimes sneaks up, like feet sinking in the sand, and sometimes it is like tripping on uneven rock paths.

I am home, over 2 years and I am taken back to a place that is burned into my soul and heart.

Wishing I could dissolve in tears with my face pressed to the carpet, the silence and the smell of roses like a warm embrace…

“O thou cherished Fruit of the heart! Give ear to the melodies of this mystic Bird warbling in the loftiest heights of heaven. The Lord hath, in truth, inspired Me to proclaim: Verily, verily, I am God, He besides Whom there is none other God. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise.

O My servants! Seek ye earnestly this highest reward, as I have indeed created for the Remembrance of God gardens which remain inscrutable to anyone save Myself, and naught therein hath been made lawful unto anyone except those whose lives have been sacrificed in His Path. Hence beseech ye God, the Most Exalted, that He may grant you this meritorious reward, and He is in truth the Most High, the Most Great.”

– the Báb

Goodbye

I am mired in this in-between state, keeping emotions at bay and I can’t seem to process anything right now.  My days are on the edge of frantic, the evenings a collapse into numb mindlessness.  I am scattered, but to stop moving would mean thought, would mean that I would have to think.

I am happy.  There is laughter in my voice, there is a smile when I speak and there are a million things to be grateful for.  Those great tragedies loom, hover, and dissipate.  We cried in horror and we were joyous at the thought of release.  We are angry, we are hurting, we are loved and loved and we love.

I thank God that I have, that my faith is this, that in these moments everything is perfect and jumbled and a beautiful mess.  I thank you.  I am humbled.

Too much information

Facebook makes me unhappy.

Let me explain that.  In the last few months, I realized that the time I spend on the internet is split into two different categories.  The first is social networking like Facebook & Twitter, random entertainment sites, and things of that nature.  The second area is blogs, Flickr, educational sources, and the news.

It is the first area that really gets me, that makes me angry.  I do not feel good when I am spending time on sites in the first category.  Every day I feel more inclined to disengage.

Now, I’ve been bumming around the internet since I got my first AOL screen name in 1997 or so. I’m not against the internet, it is marvelous.

However, there is a subtle drag on my spirit when I read the Facebook news feed.  As a friend put it today, “I just want to live in the moment!”  I am living other people’s moments, over and over, in a stream of information that just doesn’t stop.  I don’t have my own stories anymore, and the stories that I DO have are uninteresting, banal, and incredibly lame.  I feel this insatiable need to know, but I don’t really need to know!

The second category makes me happy.  I like the creative side, I love the tools and education I come across on the internet.  There are so many positive things that have come about because of the development of the web.

A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity.
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, 1938)

The internet is a tool, a piece of human creativity and knowledge, but it is becoming life for some.  We reference the collective as if it is alive, as if we are somehow obligated to keep feeding this machine simply because it exists.

I highly recommend Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not A Gadget, it is a fascinating read and a wonderful encouragement to think about the history and modern-day trends of the Internet.

“[You are Not a Gadget] delivers a powerful reminder of the limits of the Web’s capacity to meet our needs-and its power to shape us to its will . . .” -Matthew Battles, The Barnes & Noble Review

I still have not figured out where my frustration is taking me.  I have friends who limit or delete their Facebook profiles, who refuse to even get an account.  I am stuck, in a way.  I use FB to inform, advertise, keep in touch with friends, and keep track of events.  Twitter has enabled me to communicate with friends that I wouldn’t normally have time to contact.  I am so entangled that deleting profiles is almost unthinkable.  Now I must take steps each day to reduce consumption, to slowly wean myself off the flow, and to live my life away from a computer as much as possible.

Stories are not created by sitting by myself in front of screen.  Real thought and contemplation does not happen in status updates and fleeting moments.

I am utterly overwhelmed and consumed by information.

Quite frankly, I’m exhausted.

O friend, the heart is the dwelling of eternal mysteries, make it not the home of fleeting fancies; waste not the treasure of thy precious life in employment with this swiftly passing world. Thou comest from the world of holiness – bind not thine heart to the earth; thou art a dweller in the court of nearness – choose not the homeland of the dust.
(Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 34)

Inspiration and dust

I wrote part of this about a year ago when I was still living at home.

She read the story of two broken hearts , pausing every few minutes to sip her cup of hot milk (now a nightly routine).  The sound and smell of the wood turning to ashes in the fireplaces, the dishwasher on its thousandth cycle, and the sudden silence as the family settled into their dreams for the night…everything suddenly still.

Sometimes she wishes she could write like this.  Writing on paper is an exercise in chaos.  Right now, she wishes she could write with honesty about all of the beautiful, painful moments.  She has always hidden these moments in her heart, behind words, in the secret places where regret and joy sit side by side.

She is starstruck with genius. The smarts, you see, take hold and she wants to be surrounded by a library: the smell of old books, furniture that wishes to be reborn, the scratches on the floor and the quiet whisper of pages.

Writing is like an addiction that she doesn’t have time for anymore. The words sit unopened, rattling around in her brain, occasionally wasted, but mostly just dusty.

September

For years I have railed against the end of summer, the beginning of autumn.  September was always a month of conflict for me: it is my birth month, but also when school would start up again, and when the weather in Illinois would start changing.

I am a little southern girl at heart, in some ways.  I love the heat, the sun, swimming, and warm summer nights.

Sometimes September will surprise you, though.  On a beautiful September day in Waukegan:

I went to my first White Sox baseball game last night, which was also my second professional sports game ever (the first was hockey).  I’m not a fan of baseball, but I discovered that I had fun even though I don’t know much about the sport, and they were playing the Minnesota Twins (I was born in MN).  It was a good way to close out the summer, and the weather was perfect.

Back to the subject at hand: I discovered that I am looking forward to the scarves, hats, boots, fall leaves, apple-picking, pumpkin flavored everything, the smell of autumn…

When did this happen?!

A summer picnic

The sun was gliding past the trees, we found a wide patch of sun that set the grass aglow, peered into our eyes, and warmed our skin.

The proper ingredients for a picnic are:

1. a thick blanket, large enough to lay down on

2. sunglasses

3. a picnic basket (trust me, it makes it feel much more authentic)

4. good people (any combination of 2-6, more is too chaotic and being by yourself is depressing)

5. a nice park surrounded by beautiful buildings and trees (buildings optional, but make for a nice backdrop)

6.  delicious food.  I prefer Persian food if you have some way of keeping it warm, and some fresh fruit.

this is life.

the best thing about walking through a crowd is the variety.  to know all of their stories would be too much, we only see pieces of the parts of the person that they are.

humans are so strange.  we are laughing and shouting and listening and waiting.  we chase our children as they scramble unsteadily, praying that they are not preyed upon.  we are consumed with ourselves and keep consuming.  we give more of ourselves, take without thinking or asking.

we taste the wonderful things like…ice cream, sharp cheddar cheese, chocolate chip cookies with just the right amount of chocolate chips, homemade chicken rice soup, sugar snap peas, watermelon, and home fries.

an infant is comforted, a grandmother grasps her grandchild’s hand to be steady, a husband and wife learn to love and be everything that they are.  our friends surround us, make us smile when everything is going wrong.

music surrounds us, fills our bones and moves our feet.  tears fall on the perfect notes, we cringe on the sour ones but that is music too.

feet on the grass, eyes to the sky, the wind is just right and we smile into the sun.

out in the wide wide world the barbs and stones are thrown, out there we are just little sparks seeking the Light, little souls in an infinite set of worlds.

this is life, and it is wonderful.

waiting

“With aching hearts, Baha’is of the world focus on the events unfolding in Iran, the birthplace of their religion.” -Baha’i World News Service

Every day I read the news.  Whatever tragedy has happened in the world, the media is covering it (I use that term loosely, as I’m rather cynical about the way news is reported).

For the first time in 30 years, the American media is again focused on Iran.  They’re dusting off the talking heads, pundits, and anyone they can find with a connection to the events happening there.

Baha’is have a connection with Iran because it is where the Baha’i Faith began in 1844.  And since its inception, Baha’is in Iran have been persecuted, blatantly or subtly.  The situation is volatile, complicated, and very sad.  And today we hear that the trial date has been set for July 11 for the seven Baha’i leaders who have been in jail for a year without formal charges.  It is possible that they could be executed, simply for being Baha’is.

I have been watching, and waiting, as the situation in Iran has turned chaotic over the election results.  Things are summarized into sound bites, and everyone loves a story about the people fighting against tyranny.  However, it seems rather irresponsible to just throw my opinion out there.  It is so easy to forward an email, post a news story, or blog about a hot news topic.

“The Great Being saith: Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets.” –Baha’u’llah

We don’t know what is really happening there, and perhaps it is not our place to interfere.  Yesterday I said the following on Twitter:

“Wisdom in speech, writing, & web postings. Perhaps we should have that as our mantra. We don’t know how our actions affect others.”

“If we are true Bahá’ís speech is not needed. Our actions will help on the world, will spread civilization, will help the progress of science, and cause the arts to develop. Without action nothing in the material world can be accomplished, neither can words unaided advance a man in the spiritual Kingdom. It is not through lip-service only that the elect of God have attained to holiness, but by patient lives of active service they have brought light into the world.

Therefore strive that your actions day by day may be beautiful prayers. Turn towards God, and seek always to do that which is right and noble. Enrich the poor, raise the fallen, comfort the sorrowful, bring healing to the sick, reassure the fearful, rescue the oppressed, bring hope to the hopeless, shelter the destitute!” -Abdu’l-Baha

One year

It has been 8,760 hours since I came home.

Since I left home.

It is two places now, where I am and where I was.  It is pieces of memories that float to the surface with no warning and leave me gasping for breath.

It is silence in the Mother Temple when I close my eyes and pretend that I am in the Shrines, or standing on the sea wall, or walking down broken stone paths.  I am still near the water, but instead of a warm sea I swim in the cold lake, instead of gardens I am stand in concrete city landscapes.

One year.


So much and so little has changed.  There is a little more knowledge behind my eyes, a little more heaviness in my sighs, more smiles and more quiet.  There is less need to be here and there and everywhere at once.

Work happens every day from 8 am-5 pm, Monday through Friday, just like I prayed for.  Last night I signed a short lease for a place to rest my head at night, and a closet for my clothes.  Resigned and happy.

I miss you and you and you and you and you and most especially you.

In between places and time are the photographs, the Saturday morning brunches, the days upon days at Bahji, the Friday afternoon soccer matches, Thursday nights that were never-ending, Monday’s game night and dinner, Tuesday farewells to the pilgrims, and praying my way down the mountain.

Home is a jumbled mess of prairie grass, the call to prayer, the flat roads, the mountain stairs, a million flowers, snow, sand, sky and no starlight.  Haifa and Chicago.

My eyes have seen and

my heart has known and

my faith is this: I will never be alone.

There it is.

There it is.  Moments that you can taste, hold in your hands and not let out of your sight.  We sigh in vain after the past, we hold our breath and count the stars.

Tonight my heart broke, mended, and went home as my friend’s voice soared in the rafters (thank you for that, Emily).  I remembered what it felt like to be surrounded by these people, these amazing, world-traveling, soul-embracing people.

We forget to be kind to ourselves, to each other.   We are moving in a million different directions, so many paths, and waiting for what we don’t even know exists.

I like…#8

open faces that smile a lot

foggy days when the rain barely mists down

overhearing strange conversations

New York City

the way words can mean so many different things

dancing for hours

feeling like I am back in Haifa

patterns

(I Like: #1,#2,#3, #4, #5, #6, #7)

learning

I have discovered that my heart holds too much love, my mind holds too many memories, and my feet have not traveled enough roads. Too many of my secrets are no longer mine. There have been years of letting life happen, and moments of joy in between.

There are a few things I know to be true: my bare feet on marble and carpet, the scent of roses and jasmine, old stones and white-washed walls, the smiles of long-lost new friends, the pen in my hand, a child in my arms, serving tea in glass cups, sunlight, hands through hair, soft words of prayer, a purple sky with white clouds, honesty with you, and my sometimes healed, sometimes broken heart. I have invisible bruises and visible scars, and yet my words have become patience, detachment, and balance.

I always thought that the most peaceful moment would be to dance barefoot on deep green grass in a long summer dress. I could look up to the sky in any moment of doubt, and the universe would anchor me. There are too many stars out there, and too much beauty here, for God not to exist.